May 22, 2020 4:04 PM

5 more virus deaths, 303 new cases reported in Nebraska

Posted May 22, 2020 4:04 PM

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Five more people have died from the coronavirus in Nebraska and public health officials confirmed another 303 cases on Thursday, state officials said.

Nebraska now has 143 confirmed deaths statewide and 11,425 known cases, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nearly 78,700 people have gotten tested since the pandemic began.

An infectious diseases expert from the University of Nebraska Medical Center said she's concerned about the number of hospitalizations in the Omaha area, even though hospitals still have plenty of capacity statewide.

"We just keep building," Dr. Angela Hewlett, medical director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit, said Thursday night at an NET town hall with Gov. Pete Ricketts. "That's what I'm worried about. It's not a big surge, but a gradual building up over the last couple of weeks."

Hewlett said the university medical center is at 80% of its capacity. Statewide, Nebraska's hospitals have 43% of their beds, 35% of their intensive care unit beds and 77% of their ventilators available.

Ricketts has said he's using Nebraska's hospital capacity to judge how effectively the state is responding to the pandemic. On Thursday, he announced that he's further loosening restrictions in all but four Nebraska counties on June 1.